Do you belong to a writers’ group?

The Ubud Writers Group Experience.

Ubud Writers Group

Then and now.

I started writing this blog a year ago. Remember what it was like back then. We met with friends, went out to dinner, socialised as if the worst thing that could happen would be waking up with a hangover the next day. And then Coronavirus surfaced and our world became a very dangerous and different place. That is why this blog is subtitled, Then and now.

THEN. This is what I wrote back then.

Being a member of a writers’ group will improve your writing.

Over 11 years ago a few fledgling writers got together and formed the Ubud Writers Group. I was one of them and the only one still in the group. Others passed away or moved on, but for every person who left, we had others keen to join.  More than 11 years on and our group is still going strong. with about 8 members.

We meet every Thursday from 10am until about 12:30pm, in a studio beside my home and after this move next door to a cafe to eat lunch and chatter. We are currently a closed group as we have too many, or just enough, members depending on attendance. 

Here’s how we operate.

Our meeting starts at 10am sharp, so member get here a bit before if they want to chat socially. The meeting time is for writing only.

We’re allowed to present only 4 pages of our work. This must be double spaced with decent borders. We must bring along enough printed copies for every person attending. We each let the group know before hand if we’re attending so we know how many copies to print. 

We take turns to read our 4 pages and everyone follows along marking comments on their copy. When the reader finishes, we discuss the work. All comments are about the writing and aimed at helping to tighten and improve it. 

We take away each piece and revisit it at home, marking up our suggestions for improvement. The following week we return with the edited works and hand them back to each person. 

Of course rules are made to be broken, but we let them guide us and stick to them as much as possible. 

Last October we took a break as most members were going away for a while and the few remaining wanted time to progress their writing without meeting commitments. 

We were just ready to resume when news of the Coronavirus hit. 

We wondered when we’d finally meet again.


Social distance, lock down, take away only, wash your hands and wear a mask, became the most common words in our language and also very real practices. We wanted time to write, but not this much time in near solitary confinement. We needed the writers’ group more than ever, but we were not allowed to meet face to face.

ZOOM became the catch-cry for isolated people and we latched onto it.

Photo borrowed from the ZOOM website.

Lucy is the youngest member of our group and she offered to co-ordinate weekly ZOOM meetings. New operating principals were put into place.

  1. We all downloaded ZOOM.
  2. Using WhatsApp, the day before our Thursday meeting, we notify each other if we will be attending.
  3. Using email we send our writing to all people attending.
  4. We each down-load members writing ready for the start of the ZOOM meeting.
  5. From 9:45am on Thursday, we enter our meeting code and password and Lucy lets us join the meeting.
  6. By 10am, we are ready to start, but catching up is now more important so another 15 minutes elapses before we get under way.
  7. We take turns reading our piece and after this take turns to offer constructive criticism. Our meeting runs for about 2 hours and it allows us to socially connect and discuss our writing without breaking the social distancing rules.

Five of us Zoomed yesterday and for me it was a highlight of my week. The Ubud Writers Group survives even during these difficult times and for this I am most grateful.

I wonder, will we still ZOOM when we come out of isolation? I doubt it.

What do you think? How are you connecting with people during social distancing? I’d love to read your comments.

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